I landed my dream job in pet shop for school work experience aged 14 – but what happened next will scar me for life | The Sun

I landed my dream job in pet shop for school work experience aged 14 – but what happened next will scar me for life | The Sun

07/21/2022

WHEN Shannon O’Brien landed a work experience placement at a reptile store, she was over the moon.

But the 14-year-old animal lover’s dream job quickly turned into a nightmare, when she was preyed on by the shop owner.


Throughout the two-week stint she feared sicko Kim Lamplugh, 48, was behaving inappropriately, and on her final day he launched himself at her in the storage room.

Shannon managed to flee and called her dad, who alerted police.

Lamplugh was arrested and jailed for two years and seven months in November 2021, after being found guilty of seven counts of sexual assault.

Now 18, Shannon, from Edmonton, north London, has bravely waived her right to anonymity to speak out about the vile abuse she suffered.

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She tells The Sun: “Being on work experience I should’ve felt safe. But Kim abused me in the worst way and had no remorse.

“I want to help others speak up about sexual assault and know they will be believed if they go to the police.

“Two years in prison is a joke for what he put me through, but I’m determined not to let it beat me.”

Shannon – who was brought up by her dad John O’Brien, 50 – was in year 10 at secondary school when she was sent out on work experience in January 2019.

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She recalls: “My teacher asked me what my passion was and I said I was obsessed with animals.

“Since I was young I’d had puppies and I loved visiting zoos and pet stores, so they arranged for me to work at a reptile store.

“It was a two-week placement and I was so excited.”

Shannon’s dad dropped her off for her first day and Lamplugh greeted them.

She says: “Kim shook Dad’s hand and told him he’d take good care of me. He seemed friendly.

“After Dad left, Kim showed me around the shop. For the first of the day I held snakes and lots of reptiles. It was amazing.”

Shameless

The following day Shannon got the train to work by herself, and Lamplugh taught her how to feed the animals, change their water and clean out their cages.

But hours later, things took a sinister turn.

She says: “As he was showing me something, he stroked my thigh.

“I thought it was an innocent mistake. But after that, it kept happening every day – even while there were customers around.

“He’d caress my bum as I was cleaning a cage or rub my thigh as he spoke to me. Terrified, I froze each time.

“Days later, Kim unpinned my shirt in the back room and winked at me.

I thought it was an innocent mistake. But after that, it kept happening every day – even while there were customers around

“I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I also didn’t want to get in trouble.”

The following week, on Shannon’s last day of the placement, Lamplugh appeared behind her in the storage room.

She says: “Suddenly Kim lifted me onto the freezer, unpinned my shirt and started kissing me.

“He fondled me between my legs too. I was petrified.

“He then offered me a full-time job at the shop. I told him I couldn’t because I was still in school.

“He then kept caressing my body and told me he’d email the school letting them know I’d been amazing.

“He grabbed my hand and put it against his pelvis. I fought back tears.”

Mortified

Afterwards Lamplugh went to see a customer. Shannon followed and asked if she could go on an early break.

She then ran down the road and phoned her dad hysterical.

Shannon recalls: “Dad was mortified and called the police and my teachers. I got a bus back to school to meet them all and couldn't stop sobbing.”

Shortly after Lamplugh was arrested at the store.

He denied the charges, meaning Shannon was forced to give evidence against him.

She says: “I bravely took the stand and was determined to show him I wasn’t scared of him.

I was disgusted by his sentence. He traumatised not only me, but my dad and family too

“Disgustingly he smirked at me as I told the jury how he abused me.”

In October 2021 Lamplugh was found guilty of seven counts of sexual assault against Shannon.

The following month he was jailed for two years and seven months at Wood Green Crown Court.

Shannon says: “I was disgusted. He traumatised not only me, but my dad and family too.

“Now I have PTSD and I’m terrified of all men. I refuse to see male doctors and even my dad trying to hug me sometimes scares me.

“My school failed me. I should’ve been safe there.

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"Now I'm at college studying and my dream of working with animals has been crushed.”

Shannon has since started a TikTok account to help raise awareness of sexual assault. 


How you can get help

Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:

  • Always keep your phone nearby.
  • Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
  • If you are in danger, call 999.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
  • Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
  • If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
  • Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

If you are a ­victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – messageinfo@supportline.org.uk.

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available weekdays from 8am-6pm and weekends 10am-6pm.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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